Summer letter part three
- Dear Andrius and all.
I have well read your replies to my first two postings and it helped me to
formulate my third. It is addressed to all readers and people who feel in
one way or the other related to the Minciu Sodas family, and I would also
like you in this exceptional case to forward it to all newsgroups. This is
an issue that is not only concerning me and globalvillages, it is about
the relative value and merits of the information ecosystem that we are
First let me say I am very happy about your reception of the village
mapping efforts. I am considering a joint ecosystem between Minciusodas
and Globalvillages, a good mutual cooperation with a lot of learning
involved I like the fact that MinciuSodas is positioning itself as a "live
village" on the web where it is important to intensify relations and
interactions, communicate values, have open conversations, discobver new
fields of endavours, learn to express and converse and work, and also
learn how to integrate with experienced and knowledgeable people. This is
very much in line with what happens in a much larger domain and we really
can afford to become spedific and targeted like never before.
In the last months and even weeks, we are beginning to feel that something
big is happening in the domain of the way we use the internet. From an
addition to our work, a simple communication tool, a protocol for
exchanging emails and files, the internet is rapidly becoming the backbone
structure of any kind of work that we do. Networking and Worknets are not
any more additions or exceptins to the style we work, they become the norm.
In a way, thats a good news. We have opioneered an effort which is now
becoming so mainstream that it is even rapidly overhauling us. The center
of creation of value is moving slowly, but steadily, to the net, and the
fight for control over this power is increasing. The good news is that the
tools to do the job are becoming reality; with google wave we will
definitely see the completion of many of our dreams that we had with the
wiki ideas. The bad news is that this is still happening in a disruptive
and irrational way, still the monetary competition is the main driver
behind the development of our social thinking infrastructure with all the
unescapable consequences: limited reliability, vendor lock-ins, threat of
bancrupcy, incompatibilities where you look (although there is an
increasing pressure for interoberability), and a gigantic waste of
It reminds me of the fact that in 1970 Stanley Kubrick could well build on
the assumption that we would have a space Hilton by the year 2001. This
was by no means utopian at the time, but the hidden costs of a declining
market economy not only developed some productive forces and tools, but
also distorted them and diminuished what our generation could had achieved
in history. The world is full of waste and redundancy and the direction
of speed of evolution is constantly shifting, not allowing for
reliability and real progress. The sacrifices and the burden on man and
nature are so enormous that we are using up all the credit that mother
nature have given us and soon will have to declare bancrupcy.
Anyway, thats beside the point. As one participants in Crottorf commons
consultations used to say, its too late in the day for us to be
pessimistic. We must double our speed and evolve towards a new culture
that emerges within the old and is ready to gradually take over direction
and responsibility. Thats a broad consensus now.
And we are seing that this new culture is based on commuication,
cooperation and good design, as it is built on creative unfolding of
individual voluntary potentials and the elimination of command and control
out of our social operating system. We all are called to pioneer the
efforts to create this culture, and history will judge us for the
diligence and skill we put into this endavour.
The central backbone of this new culture is the development of our means
of communication. That is a very basic fact, and those who diminuish the
fact are in my ways not able to understand the nature of our transition.
This is why I have started the Global Villages movement, to center a new
culture around the reclaiming of community with a double nature: reclaim
the local community and reclaim the global potential to communicate. For
many communciaction might seem as a means, but I totally agree with
Marshall McLuhan that we are basically formed by our perceptions and
There is an utter importance in the design of media and communication
spaces, they will decide about what we will be able to think, to imagine
and to create.
Wer are still in the laboratory face and we have the potential to conduct
many many experiments. This is a confused time, but also a precious time.
We must constantly be aware of our environment, but we also must be very
straightforward with our own ideas.
The Minciu Sodas information Infrastructure has been such an experiment.
It stands out in a way because of its radical vision to not only put
people in touch with each other, but really enact a collaboration effect
on the lives of people. That starts with the recognition that we all are
in need of an economic support structure; Minciu Sodas aims to acquire and
distribute economic resources by the logic of rewarding open work that
benefits all - which also means that it could be needed to strenghten the
weak, not by feeding them with pittance and eleemosinaries, but by
supporting their growth and abilities to contribute. Minciu Sodas also
stands out because it is built on voluntary dictatorship rather than
democracy - with you, Andrius, as the single owner and director of the
whole venture. This is based on an assumption that an individualk who is
in charge, able to listen but also making decisions, can react more
flexible toi actial requirements than any group decision mechanism. This
might be questionable from many pooints ov views, but it has indisputably
led to some positive results that we cant deny.
So I went a long way with you and I am willing to continue this way. But
it is clear that there is nobody in the world that you could completely
entrust your life and your work to. If we want total trust and
reliability, we must very often restrict adaption and flexibility.
Individuals change opinions, devellop, evolve - so is also for the
direction of this lab. That is good, but also sometimes dangerous.
Not only is each of us prone to failures, but also the perception of other
peoples needs is naturally limited. I needed a place to unfold research,
maybe of the "cathedral" type that I described in my previous letter. I
made the experience that the evolution of the Minciu Sodas ecosystem
helped, but also sometimes put tremendous burden on my work as an
investigator, by simply destroying contextuality again and again. This has
its good side, because you learn that everything you create also can
easily be destroyed and you should not put too much emphasis: like those
people who build a house of cards that falls down again and again or a
group of buddhist monks that draw images in or with sand, that the wind
blows away. You learn; its strengthening your creative abilities, maybe
even your intelligence and awareness.
But it is not satisfactory. A culture can only be built if our work is
allowed to be preserved.
To give you one example:
There are links all over the web that point to a page on
Worknets/GlobalVillages about Regional Information Coaching
it used to be
but now you dont find this page any more. Not only does in not bring you
to the linked page, but to the GlobalVillages top page, Simply because the
address cannot be resolved any more.
You would still find it at
but this still carries traits of the previous formating in PMWiki.
So all the links that I set in Dorfwiki or anywhere in the world to
explain stuff by globalvillages.info are lost in the moment. That means,
with one decision that you made to change the naming and the position of a
domain in your information ecosystem you might have destroyed the work of
other people months and years. Which not only leads to the fact that
people do not find the linked information, but also consequently there is
loss of reputation and opportunities around the information ecosystem. A
simple decision to change and adapt on one side could have the effect of
an elephant in the porcellain store who walks over hundreds of vases like
they were simly earth, dust and sand and then expects people to spend
years of their lives to mend the splinterings that occured in the move of
It is sometimes creative destruction, yes; but in fact it is also break of
trust and negligeance of good will.
I have begun to accept that and nevertheless act, support and plan with
Minciu Sodas; I am sure that the methods of creative destruction also have
The choice of Prowiki was done because there seemed to be an engine that
supports individual, deep fractal subwikis. I suggested to Helmut Leitner,
the developto go Opensource and make this tool available to developers. I
am happy that you, Andrius, accepted this choice. But I found out that
Helmut had an economic calculation that still would mean that other people
should make money for him to have the economic means of further developing
and supporting ProWiki. He did not really want to entrust the development
to a community. And after he saw that this calculation would not work, he
even gave up on renewing the versions on sourceforge and switched back to
his proprietory mode, leaving a more or less unsuppported version for
people to download on Sourceforge.
This is a very critical situation; it requires us to reconsider the whole
technical setting or be able to fork away and maintain the tool ourselves.
I would really rather prefer the second solution, but it requires
dedicated work of PERL-savvy people to help us.
I have built on the assumption that we could solve this situation and
started to think about the new wiki.
That would be subject to some very clear rules like Wikipedia, some basic
rules that are like the DNA of the whole System. I explained the idea in
another letter, that you can have my.globalvillage.at combined with any
location name, so the domains would be talking and easy and reliable, but
each village could have a subwiki or even more than one. Fractality would
be combined with clarity and structure. There would be elaborate metadata
that could be made communicate with Google Maps or other applications, but
also would form interesting overviews and tables in the Wiki itself.
Thanks to all who replied positively to this idea.
On the side of this we would start to experiment with more things:
An online social networking system with built - in communication
capabilities like video and audio chat. Ralf is working much with
Asterisk, and we have seen some exciting developments. The same system
could have groups, mailing lists, personalized profile pages. We would for
example need this to organize Open Source Ecology in Europe. Maybe even
globally. There is much of a danger of Vendor Lock In on NING and
Facebook, so essential contents and lists should be preserved for the
communities that created them. Forking and extracting conditions should be
built in. I have not at least figured out the potentials and dangers of
this. The Verndors currently also provide rules and security, so that we
can focus on work. There are many hidden dangers in more open Systems, and
I have also seen one system die in an instant because of the sudden death
of its maintaier, the legendary Wolf Steinhauer.
So finally that is the last issue I want to touch. The Minciu Sodas
infrastructure is built mainly around individuals, and the concepts that
hold the workgroups together are vaguer and secondary in comparison to the
group leader idea. Which is fine in many ways, but I have begun to feel
increasingly uncomfortable about these issues. We are all mortal, and I
think in the second half of our life we should be working on diminuish our
individuality and work on structure, that makes our work persist.
My goal is to decouple the GlobalVillages idea from my person in a way. I
might always be recognized as initiator and mentor, but I think it is
important for me to care that the work takes a life of its own. The
formation of the Globalvillages network is a good step, and I hope to come
to the point where a loose network will turn into a virtual republic, a
common good, based on a constitution.
Structures and procedures are am important prerequisite to achieve that.
I hope that in the coming month we will have much more clarity on that.
For all these endavours I hope that a team around Ralf and you emerges
that creates common structures and covenants
In the meantime I repeat my invitation for the globalvillagers to the
temporary gathering place on NING. I want to create an online magazine
called globalvillages.org which should reach mainstream people and be
managed like a traditional publication.
At globalvillages.ning.com I want to assemble the board of contributors.
At the same time, I hope as I said for a maximum of collaboration between
Mincu Sodas and Globalvillages, and the maintainance of the fact that we
are overlapping. The focus of Minciu Sodas should always be the people,
the individuals and their creative development. Together we all will form
a new culture. Forming a new culture goes ex definitione beyond the domain
of a single individual or community. It is the procedures that emerge to
host diversity and unity alike.
There is much more going on currently. Michel Bauwens and other visitors
of the Manchester conference are teaming up to form a consulting group to
really strengthen the collaboration between the p2p world and the business
world. The results from the Mornflake experiment will be very important
parameters to develop models and procedures and patterns to follow.
At the same time, the Open Hardware and production world is exploding.
Some of us like Thomas Diener think about a "hybrid enterprise" that
facilitates relations between users, producers, developers and even
distributors of Open Source products. The project has the codename
There will be several events and workshops on Solidarity Economy, which
will also result in paid projects where I hope we can capitalize on our
experiments in combining good content with geographical contextualisation
and the mappings of needs and endavours.
And now I will have to disappear for a while to finish two books and
prepare for the Archangelsk challenge.
All the best
- Dear Franz and Andrius and everyone (Andrius, I started off just writing to Franz and everyone, but gradually I found my reply included discussion of relationships within MS, and so perhaps from the start I should really have written "in a different voice" - to both of you - but I did not realise that is how it would develop)
Dear Franz - and everyone.
Franz - I have been looking forward to your third letter. I wish you were back in London again so that we could meet and discuss it in depth.
As it is, all I can do for now is simply acknowledge it, appreciate it, thank you for writing it, and pick up on just a few of the issues it covers.
I have not read any replies to your letters yet, and so this email is a response to your letters alone - especially letter 3 - which I will work through simply expressing some thoughts as I go.
I like your expression the "Minciu Sodas family" - yes I think that is how I feel about it sometimes. In some ways it has been my university, but also it is like my family. Like in my real family experiences I feel closer to some people than others. I understand some more easily than others. In some situations I feel I can be helpful, in others I feel helpless. Sometimes I am delighted, inspired, amused or encouaged by what other people do or say, sometimes I am bewildered or exasperated - but - on the whole it is enriching to be part of it and I prefer to belong than to not belong.
I like your theme of an information eco-system. It ties in with my interest in how ICT alters roles and relationships.
You say "building an eco-system". Hmm. Building? Aren't eco-systems organic? I think we can destroy them, or we can try to act more positively. We can build systems that we hope will support the growth of an eco-system- but actually build an eco-system? I don't think so. Perhaps I have misunderstood.
ref Village mapping - I want to discuss with you sometime how best to include the intertwined initiatives that Dadamac and Fantusam Foundation are are doing at Attachab Eco-village and the Knowledge Resource Centre, and online. We don't have a single location for an existing global village like the one I saw you descibe on an online video, but we do have most of the elements and the vision. I would like us to be part of your global village initiative.
Ref 'MinciuSodas is positioning itself as a "live village" on the web '. I don't know about this, but it seems interesting.
Ref "beginning to feel that something big is happening in the domain of the way we use the internet" Exactly so. I'm tempted to go deeply into that. No time now. Except in a very oversimplified way. It feels to me as if the 21st century is beginning to discover itself and is starting to find its feet. Initially the Internet was just "an add on" to the structures and systems of the 20th century. Now, increasingly systems and structures and communities are emerging which have been born within the Internet, and could never have come into being without it. They are the 'true children' of the 21st century. At present it is like we live in two parallel worlds - the 20th century one, and the 21st century one.
Ref " The good news... the bad news..." That seems to me to be part of the rise of the young 21st century and the hanging on of the old from the 20th. - a bit like generation gap struggles.
Ref paragraph touching on "the hidden costs of a declining market economy...using up all the credit that mother nature have given us and soon will have to declare bancrupcy."
I see that too in terms of C20th V C21st, and competition V collaboration. I was very influenced by Gary Alexander's book E-Gaia - available as book or to download. http://earthconnected.net/earthconnected/eGaia.html
Ref- new culture is based on communication, cooperation.. good design..creative unfolding of
individual voluntary potentials...elimination of command and control out of our social operating system.
Yes - something that comes up repeatedly in comparison of C20th and C21st 9along with collaboration) is the chaotic nature of C21st systems, and the idea that we won't be living in a "top down" world. Some people describe it as "flat". Someone described it as "spiky". I relate to that - it is flat in the way so many of us who were excluded from top-down structures can now connect and be included, and it is spiky is the way that individuals can "raise something up" raise the visibility of something as if it was some kind of banner on a spike, and then others can see it and make connections.
Ref "The central backbone of this new culture is the development of our means
of communication" - I agree, and regarding "commnication" I think again of "ICT"as the foundation for C21st and I think of how the term "ICT - Information and Communication Technology" helps us to remember three important aspects:
- Information - The information content of our communications
- Communication - The human side of communication - the reason for it - people with a purpose who want/need the communication to happen
- Technology - The combination of hardware, software, skills, training, infrastructre, and other resources that enables the technology to exist and function effectively.
Ref " formed by our perceptions and expressions." Agreed.
Ref "the design of media and communication spaces, they will decide about what we will be able to think, to imagine and to create... experiments... confused .. precious time.. " Yes. The issues around that fascinate me. The influence of our online spaces, and our experiences there, the development of various cultures, sub-cultures, cultural norms etc.
Ref The Minciu Sodas information Infrastructure ... experiment... radical vision...collaboration.. economic support structure.. rewarding open work... strenghten the weak... supporting their growth and abilities to contribute.. built on voluntary dictatorship... Andrius, as the single owner and director..questionable from many points of views, but it has indisputably led to some positive results that we cant deny."
Yes - MS structure reminds me of an analysis of open source development that I heard at the Open Knowledge (OK)day in 2008, and I have also discussed with Vinay Gupta. People often point to Open Source development as the model for collaboration, but it lead by dictotors.
OS development is seen as a model for collaboration, but it is a model which is hard to replicate in other situations - even those situations which might seem to be naturally more collaborative.
I thought the reason was because writing code has very tight rules, and anything to do with computer programming has to be ultimately logical and binary. Therefore, it seemed to me, Open Source (OS) development would easily lend itself to a modular approach. However most of life is lived in a messy analogue kind of way, not a neat digital, binary, logical way, so anything that was more to do with human systems and less to do with computer systems would be hard to do in a collaborative way.
However it was pointed out to me that OS development is not really collaborative, because it is typically lead by dictators, and also it is arguable that it attracts what Vinay describes as "alpha nurds" - extrememly intelligent people who are attracted by the intellectual challenge. In fact some could be attracted by the competitive element of writing the best code. They are not there because of an ethos of collaboration. I find this an interesting idea. It would help to explain why "warm fuzzy" democratic development does not easily fit into the OS development mould.
If it is more than just an interesting idea then I think it offers us some clues about some of the tensions within Minciu Sodas. I think MS has some similarities to the OS development model - but it is dealing with people, and Andrius has gone out of his way to collect people who he describes as "independent thinkers". Inevitably we will be individualistic and "very analogue" - we will not fit comfortably in a system which is being run the way that works for OS development - with a very controlling style of leadership. We may want to collaborate with the person who happens to be the leader, but we will not want to collaborate inside the organisation if it is not a collaborative organisation.
I find myself considering my own relationship with MS/Andrius. I find that if it is simply me (Pam) relating to Andrius then that is the easiest way to connect. Person to person we are fine. I enjoy his company, I am interested in his ideas. I admire many things about him. I do not always agree with what he says, but, so what. I often disagree with the people who I enjoy knowing. Disagreements can add interest. I like exploring ideas through lively debate. However I do know that while some of my friends "enjoy a good argument" with others it is best if I hold my tongue. With Andrius when I disagree strongly I usually simply remind him that just because I am silent it does not mean that I agree. With "Andrius and Pam" Andrius speaks for himself, and I speak for myself - or decide to just listen.
However as "Pam in Minciu Sodas" it gets more difficult. If Andrius "speaks for Minciu Sodas" and says something about Mincu Sodas and its "indepenedent thinkers" that I do not agree with - then I have a problem, especially if it has been said (or written) to other people, not just to me, and if I feel Andrius assumes that I am included in his 'Minciu Sodas" statement. In that situation - which happens too often for comfort
- Do I stay silent - which suggests that I agree? (Feels dishonest)
- Do I disagree - but without explanation (Feels rude and unnecessarily confrontational)
- Do I disagree and explain (I find Andrius is usually very willing to consider carefully a written explanation, and to respond logically to its points if they are well made - but l do not have the time to respond in that way everytime I see something "that I am not comfortable with". )
- Do I simply withdraw until the issue is not longer relevant. (Not very satisfactory but sometimes it seems the only option)
What about "Pam in Dadamac". Hmm, even more difficult. Individual people related to Dadamac may also be part of Minciu Sodas, but Minciu Sodas is (rightly) for individuals. Dadamac might collaborate with Minciu Sodas but it woud never "be part of MS". When I come to MS I come as myself, individually, not as my organisation. If there was confusion about that, there would be so much potentail for misunderstandings and culture clashes.
I will skip over the next few paragraphs of letter 3 which start "So I went a long way with you and I am willing to continue this way." because I feel they are either very specific to Andrius, Franz and Global villages, or they are more general and overlap some of the points I have made above ref Andrius/MS and me.
I have not contributed to the wiki as I do not like wikis for a number of reasons, so issues relating to changes there have not affected me.
So jumping onwards Ref "We are all mortal, and I think in the second half of our life we should be working on diminuish our individuality and work on structure, that makes our work persist."
That is interesting, and ties in with some of what I am trying to do with the online presence of Dadamac. I have been looking at the information flows within and around Dadamac (at present I am the only one who can "see" these flows because they have developed as a result of almost ten years work on the Internet connected with what I am now pulling together under the heading of Dadamac).
I will not go into details here, but, to over simplify, i am concerned with designing a system that treats information in different ways for different people.It is about "pushing, parking, and pulling" information in ways that are designed around the personal needs of people within the organisation. Maybe the ideal system exists already, but if so I didn't know enough to go out and find it, so I had to experiment with what I had to hand. A main trigger for my investigations was dissatisfaction with the wiki we created for Teachers Talking in 2004, and my subsequent (and ongoing) experiments with sharing information in ways that were more appropriate to the needs of the people I was working with.
As I am not a techie it has been a very slow and clumsy process, but I think it is "over the worst' now, and things will gradually become less invisible and easier to share with people. I hope this will lead to collboration - both for creating the system I need for Dadamac, and for working within Dadamac using the system as it develops and becomes robust and really user freindly. I see the planned Dadamac online presence as the C21st equivalent of the big head office - but because it is virtual everyone in Dadamac will belong there (with their own working spaces, and with meeting places for their groups, and where visitors are welcomed adn discover waht we do and it they wont to connect with us.etc.).I see the physical locations where Dadamac people are physically living/working as being like local branches - for example the Knowledge Resource Centre at Bayan Loco, the InfoCentre at Ago-Are, my home-office here (and locations elsewhere as people choose to get involved).
As Dadamacs online space develops I hope it will become the online environment that I, and others, would choose to work in, and we will all work there in a collaborative but individualistic way. When I stop working there it won't make much difference to how anyone else continues with their work within Dadamac, because the system will hold everything together and enable it to function and grow. I hope lots of other people will be attracted to Dadamac doing the kinds of things that I do now, but more effectivley, with the structures helping us to work together in a collaborative way but with large amounts of individual choice and freedom.
Ref "I might always be recognized as initiator and mentor, but I think it is
important for me to care that the work takes a life of its own."
I think we have similar visions.
Ref "Structures and procedures are am important prerequisite to achieve that."
Yes. Hmm. Perhaps we are coming back to the challenge of collaboration (as some people like to think they see it in OS development) but where the collaboration means freedom enabled by structures, and where analogue and digital approaches form a new kind fo collaborative ecosystem.
Ref the rest of the letter - especially related to collaborations and the many exciting things going on currently - for myself regarding collaborations I am attracted towards the flat/spiky structures of C21st rather than the top-down ones that I associate with C20th. I agree there are lots of changes, lots of exciting things, lots of opportunities for collaboration, lots of areas of overlap. I am so grateful to Andrius and his Minciu Sodas family for helping me to get where I am now, and look forward to whatever collaborations we will develop in the time ahead.
Now I need to stop reading and responding to MS letters again and get back to focussing on Dadamac and its collaborators again. I hope to meet up with people again on the next Thursday of the month in the chat room.